Maintaining a clean house isn't easy in this fast-paced world. It seems like there's always something on that mental to-do list that takes precedence. Simply staying organized is enough of a job for many people. If you have the luxury of being able to afford a regular cleaning service, then you can let some things slide here and there because you know they'll ultimately get taken care of, but if you're on a tighter budget then it falls on you to keep track of everything.
There are a lot of chores that go into keeping your house clean, and if you're going in 10 different directions, it's easy to neglect some of these areas. Creating an organized system with the help of a chore calendar is a must for busy families. The calendar will help you remember everything that needs to be done, and by assigning chores to your spouse and children, you'll be able to share the cleaning burden and keep track of who is and isn't pulling their weight. This may not be an instant hit with your kids, but it will eventually serve as a model for them about how to stay organized and efficient. Just don't expect them to thank you in the short run. Here are some helpful tips for how to get organized and the best way to dole out chores to your reluctant family.
Asking your children to do chores doesn't make you the Miss Hannigan of the house -- quite the opposite in fact. Assigning chores to your kids helps them learn responsibility and that life's messes aren't going to clean themselves. It also gives you, as a parent, an opportunity to act as teacher and role model to your child. And let's be honest, it helps you out if you have some help with the cleaning. But not all chores are appropriate for all kids. Some are too complicated and others are simply too dangerous for your children. You don't want them on a step ladder cleaning the ceiling fan blades. The good news is that kids are never too young to learn the value of tidying up. As soon as your child can walk and talk, they can learn to put their toys back where they should go. Simply putting toys in the toy bin is a good first step for teaching chores.
As your children grow, they can help you tackle chores in the kitchen like setting the table or helping to clear dinner and do dishes. The key is to participate along with your kids. You'll get a lot more help if you act as teacher and co-cleaner instead of just assigning them tasks and sending them off. As they venture into their teenage years, you can leave them to their own tasks with lighter supervision. Yard work like grass cutting and leaf raking are some other good teenage chores that most parents are glad to relinquish, but doing these things alongside your kids can be a good chance to bond with busy teenagers. If you started early, your teenager should have a good understanding of the value of a clean and organized home. This doesn't mean that it's his first priority, but if he's been active in the household chores his whole life, it will be easier to get help later on.
Chore Charts and Calendars
The key to staying organized with the myriad of household chores that need to be done is to build a chore chart and calendar. This will serve two purposes. It will help ensure that no chores are slipping through the cracks, and it will assist you in knowing who is supposed to do what and when. If you have an incentive program, like an allowance, tied to your chores, a chart and calendar will also help you remember who has some money coming their way. The calendar does not have to be super complicated -- just do whatever helps to keep things manageable and easy to track.
Start by writing out a list of every chore in the house and who is generally responsible for it. Once you have your list, you can dole out other jobs to balance out the chore list. Simply doing the list might help you see how much or little each family member contributes. Once you have a comprehensive list, divide it into tasks that need to be done daily, weekly and monthly. So you'll have three lists of chores, with a family member's name next to each one. Then, all you need to do is chart it out in a calendar style format and explain it all to your family in a way that doesn't start an uprising. You can write it out if you want, or use a computer spreadsheet. There are also helpful chore calendars that are already formatted and available for free on many home organization websites.
Remember that your goal is to get some help around the house, so don't be too overbearing with your calendar. Your family may rebel if you come across too strong with your new "type-A" system. Attach some incentives to the list and encourage your kids to work at their own pace for the reward. You might find that your children really want that allowance and before you know it, they're doing chores and marking it on the calendar without even being prompted. That's when you know that your plan has worked and you can bask in the glory of your clean and tidy house.
- "Age Appropriate Household Job Chart." Workingmom.com, 2010. http://www.workingmom.com/age-guidelines.htm
- "Donna Young's Chore Chart Maker." Donnayoung.org, 2010. http://donnayoung.org/household/fullsize/xls-chore-chart-maker.htm
- "Motivated Mom's Calendar." Motivatedmomsplanner.com, 2010. http://www.motivatedmomsplanner.com/
- Sullivan, Patricia. "Chores and Children." Life.familyeducation.com, 2010. http://life.familyeducation.com/jobs-and-chores/parenting/36443.html
- "Track Your Chores with Style." Chorecharts.com, 2010.http://www.chorecharts.com/